A Matchup Inside the Matchup: Mike Fisher vs. Ryan Kesler

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 29: Sami Salo #6 of the Vancouver Canucks tries to get position on Mike Fisher #12 and Patric Hornqvist #27 of the Nashville Predators on March 29, 2011 at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

After Mike Fisher had a particularly strong game against the Vancouver Canucks back in February, Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz stated that "it'd be great to see a Fisher vs. [Ryan] Kesler battle for 7 games, they're cut from the same cloth."

Wish granted.

In many ways, Mike Fisher and Ryan Kesler are extremely similar - both former Selke Trophy finalists, both play with a physical edge, and each can contribute in a major way on the offensive end of the rink. Now, they'll likely find themselves going toe-to-toe as Henrik Sedin and David Legwand do battle elsewhere. 

Mike Fisher

#12 / Center / Nashville Predators

6-1

208

Jun 05, 1980


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT

2010 - Mike Fisher

2010-11 playoffs

82

6

19

3

17

3

36

6

-17

2

43

7

4

0

0

0

2

1

192

14

Scouting Report

Assets
  • Is great on the forecheck and can kill penalties with aplomb. Owns good speed and is extremely tenacious. Has excellent two-way ability. Also possesses a great shot.
Flaws
  • While capable of scoring, he's not a go-to guy on offense because he lacks consistency in that department. His rambunctious style can lead to injuries.
Career Potential
  • Quality two-way center.

Fisher's duties in this series will be varied, but fairly straightforward. Against Anaheim, he was called upon to center Nashville's top scoring line, their first power play unit, and second penalty kill unit. He proved more than capable for the responsibilities, leading the Predators in quarterfinal scoring.

Against the Canucks, though, Fisher's defensive responsibility will be increased significantly. It's pretty safe to expect that, when possible (Barry Trotz used Fisher against Kesler when the Preds had the last change), David Legwand will match up against the Sedins, leaving Fisher locked in a battle with a 40 goal scorer...


Ryan Kesler

#17 / Center / Vancouver Canucks

6-2

202

Aug 31, 1984


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG
SOG PCT

2010 - Ryan Kesler

2010-11 playoffs

82

7

41

0

32

4

73

4

24

4

66

2

15

0

3

0

7

0

260

23


Scouting Report

Assets
  • A polished two-way performer, he displays both offensive acumen and shutdown capability. Can play wing if need be and has tremendous determination. Has the size teams crave at the center position. Gets under opponents' skin.
Flaws
  • Is a little inconsistent when it comes to both producing points and playing the body. Will occasionally cross the line in his attempt to get opponents off their game.
Career Potential
  • Excellent two-way center.

As good a two-way center as Mike Fisher is, Ryan Kesler is better, to the point where he even had Hart Trophy support at times during the season. Roberto Luongo and the Sedin twins drive the Canucks, but Kesler is the engine, having the capability to both shut down opponents' best players and drive offense in a way that few can.

Kesler scores, defends, wins faceoffs, and agitates - he's truly a complete center, and in all honesty, one of my favorite players in the league to watch. Kesler has struggled in these playoffs offensively, likely because Manny Malhotra is injured and unable to take the defensive burdens away, but he remains incredibly dangerous.

The problem for the Predators is this: Mike Fisher can't just neutralize Ryan Kesler, because the Canucks have too many weapons elsewhere. Fisher must outplay him, and while that is in part contingent upon their respective linemates, it promises to be quite the battle. Both are players whose games are perfectly suited for the postseason, and the outcome of the matchup may well end up being a microcosm of the series as a whole. 

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